Skip to main content

Patio Furniture for Different Weather Conditions


The Best Outdoor Furniture Materials for Every Climate

If you’ve been to any furniture stores recently, you’ve probably noticed something: showrooms everywhere are just about sold out of outdoor dining tables, outdoor chairs, and outdoor dining sets of all sizes. But, it’s not just a supply-chain issue. Retailers everywhere are selling out of their wares because their customers are buying outdoor goods in truly record-breaking numbers!

With all this outdoor shopping going on, the experts at Furniture Row have curated a list of today’s most popular outdoor materials - complete with their strengths, weaknesses, and the weather conditions they’re best suited for - so that our customers can determine which material is best for their needs.

The Golden Age of Outdoor Furniture

Before we dive right in, it’s important to understand just why exactly people are now putting more time and effort into decorating their outside spaces.

As anyone in the furniture business can tell you, this “outside mindset” is actually part of a trend that’s been developing over the last few decades. While there are many cultural factors driving this trend, one of the biggest reasons might surprise you. According to many in the field, the primary reason for this newfound attitude is that we are currently living in the “Golden Age” of outdoor furniture.

In recent years there have been groundbreaking innovations in the world of outdoor furniture, resulting in a variety of weather-resistant materials that are making it possible to make outdoor spaces just as comfortable as indoor ones. Advances in modern outdoor fabrics, weather-proof synthetic wood, and sophisticated outdoor finishes are making it easier than ever to create an outdoor space of your dreams.

The Leading Culprits in Weather-Related Damage 

Even though outdoor furnishings are more resilient than ever before, this doesn’t mean you should take home the first high-end outdoor set that you see. Remember, it’s almost impossible to create a material that’s completely impervious to life in the elements. Mother Nature is still the #1 concern in the life of outside furniture, and it pays to understand just how damaging different weather effects can be. 

When left outside, furniture is exposed to a variety of conditions, but the primary sources of concern when it comes to weather-related damage are moisturesunlightextreme temperatures, and wind.



Moisture - Moisture refers to obvious weather conditions like rain and snow, but it can also refer to more subtle dangers like humidity and salty coastal air. Moisture can cause metal to rust, wood to warp and rot, and it can cause fabrics to break down or develop mold and mildew.



Sunlight - While it makes outdoor living enjoyable, sunlight can actually be quite harmful to certain outdoor materials. Specifically, the ultra-violet rays in sunlight can cause the colors applied to outdoor materials to fade significantly.


Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures - Extreme temperatures can damage furniture. Most materials expand and contract when they are heated or cooled, and some materials are better at dealing with this process than others. Materials that are not able to withstand extreme temperatures can crack, split, or become brittle. Other materials can develop high surface temperatures and become uncomfortable or painful to the touch.



Wind - Wind is the most easily understood of the harmful weather conditions. While moving air doesn’t harm furniture as it passes by, strong winds are a problem for lightweight outdoor pieces as they are easily blown over or carried away. Additionally, strong winds can carry things like branches, which can damage softer outdoor materials.


The Best Outdoor Furniture Materials For Every Type of Weather

Along with understanding weather-related damage, another thing to remember consider is price. Modern outdoor materials are often expensive, while some tried-and-true materials are becoming more affordable.

With so much to think about, finding the right outdoor material at the right price can really be a headache. But, that’s why we’re here! The expertly-curated list below provides information on the top performing modern and traditional outdoor materials that are all likely to be found at your favorite furniture store, so you only have to focus on finding the right product for your space and budget.  


Metals have always been highly sought after when it comes to designing high-quality outdoor furniture due to their exceptional strength and durability. While metals are generally well suited for life in the great outdoors, not all metals are created equal*. 

*It should be noted here that this list contains accurate information regarding the intrinsic strengths and weaknesses of various metals. As mentioned above, there are some modern finishing techniques currently available that are capable of removing these weaknesses to a large extent. The most prevalent of these is called “powder coating” which is far superior to paint and can make many metals significantly more water and rust-resistant.


Strengths: Heavy, long-lasting, not easily damaged

Weaknesses: Rusts easily unless treated, difficult to move, surface temperatures can become extreme

Preferred Climate: 

wind, sun, no rain

Iron - Iron is silver-gray metal that is quite durable and heavy. Even though it is exceptionally strong, iron has been shaped into intricate designs for centuries, which is why many iron pieces today convey a stately aesthetic. 


Iron, somtimes called "wrought iron" or "cast iron", has been used to create beautiful outdoor furniture for centuries. It is highly durable and perfect for windy climates because the metal itself is heavy and more dense than most other materials found outside. The problem with iron furniture is that it rusts easily and can be difficult to move around. Iron can withstand extreme temperatures without being damaged, but it also retains temperatures easily and can often become too hot or cold to the touch depending on where you live. Because of its hardness and ability to retain extreme temperatures, wrought iron pieces usually require some sort of fabric cushioning to make sure they are comfortable in all seasons. 



Strengths: Durable, inexpensive, resists rust, and easy-to-clean

Weaknesses: Can be too lightweight for certain areas, surface temperatures can become extreme

Preferred Climate:

rain, sun, no wind

Aluminum - Aluminum is a lightweight, relatively malleable metal with a silvery-white color. Because it’s lightweight, maneuverable, and very strong, aluminum is a prized metal when it comes to outdoor furniture.

Aluminum is currently the most commonly used metal when it comes to outdoor furniture frames because many of its intrinsic qualities make it perfect for outdoor living. As you can see from the definition, aluminum is lightweight, highly-durable, and it resists rust and moisture damage better than most other metals. On top of this, aluminum is inexpensive and easy to work with which makes it highly desirable to manufacturers and consumers alike. While it’s easy to transport, the one real problem with aluminum is that it is so lightweight that it tends to blow over in the presence of high winds. Also, like other metals, aluminum tends to become hot or cold quite easily, and it can become uncomfortable if not covered by shade or some sort of fabric cushioning. 

Stainless Steel

Strengths: Highly durable, exceptional rust-resistance, easy-to-clean, often made from recycled materials 

Weaknesses: Expensive, surface temperatures can become too extreme

Preferred Climate: 

rain, sun, wind


Stainless Steel - Stainless steel displays a brighter silver color compared to traditional steel, and it is also extremely resistant to corrosion, stains, and rust. Because of these qualities, stainless steel is a very popular furniture material.

Heavier than aluminum but lighter than iron, stainless steel is a fantastic option for a variety of weather conditions. Steel is extremely dense, durable, and almost dent-proof; and it is the most rust-resistant metal on the market (although it can still be powder coated to combat corrosion due to salty coastal air). Stainless steel is easy to clean, offers a sleek modern look, and it is often made from recycled materials. Like other metals, stainless steel can become too hot or cold to the touch in certain conditions, but the only real drawback to stainless steel is that it is one of the most expensive metals on the market. 


Wood has been a beloved material in the world of outdoor furniture for years because it’s easy to work with and beautiful in any setting. That being said, wood is also subject to more of the negative effects of weather than any other material on this list. These negative effects include warping, cracking, fading, and rotting, and they are primarily caused by water damage and changing temperatures. Through the years, furniture makers have learned that most of these effects can be mitigated through use of finishes, stains, and sealants, but that doesn’t mean that every type of wood is able to withstand life in the great outdoors. While there are a plethora of types of wood available to furniture producers, they are often divided into two categories based on which species of tree they come from: hardwoods and softwoods. 


Strengths: Strong, long-lasting, water-resistant, able to withstand extreme temperatures

Weaknesses: Difficult to work with, hard to paint, expensive

Preferred Climate:

rain, sun, high temperatures

Hardwood - Any wood created from broad-leafed trees, well-known examples including walnut, beech, mahogany, maple and oak. Unlike softwood, hardwood trees produce a more complex wood structure that promotes superior durability.

Hardwoods come from deciduous trees called Angiosperms. Angiosperms grow slowly which makes them more expensive, and the wood they produce is dense, close-grained, and has a high oil content. Broadly speaking, hardwoods can be seen as a natural fit in the outdoor furniture world because they’re strong, long-lasting, water-resistant, and able to deal with changing temperatures without warping or cracking. Because of their density and oil content, hardwoods are not able to be painted, though they can accept certain finishes to make them even more weather-resistant. Some notable examples of high quality-outdoor hardwoods are TeakShoreaAcacia, and Ipe.


Strengths: Easy to work with, take finishes easily and beautifully, inexpensive, eco-friendly when compared to hardwoods

Weaknesses: Poor longevity, prone to water damage unless properly sealed, can be too lightweight for certain areas

Preferred Climate:

sun, no rain, no wind

Softwood - Wood that is sourced from conifers, such as pine, fir, or spruce. Softwood is typically less dense and lighter in weight than hardwood, and many varieties of softwood are used in commercial construction, paper production, and furniture.

Conifers grow quickly and are generally less dense than hardwood tress, which makes their wood less durable, but this same quality makes them easier to work with and more environmentally-friendly. Softwoods are more prone to weather damage, but they are also better able to absorb weather-resistant finishes. It is commonly believed that softwoods are typically better suited to indoor environments, but many softwoods can be used outdoors so long as they are properly treated to resist moisture. Some notable examples of high-quality outdoor softwoods are CedarCypress, and Redwood.

Synthetic Materials

Man-made synthetic materials, such as plastics and resins, are typically lightweight, inexpensive, and able to take on a variety of unique shapes. On top of this, synthetics are virtually impervious to water damage, and they are naturally fade-resistant because their color isn’t applied externally, it’s part of the composition of the material itself.  Now more than ever, advanced manufacturing processes and the discovery of new hybrid compositions are enabling furniture makers to create truly unique and head-turning pieces using these modern materials. 


Strengths: Inexpensive, fade-resistant

Weaknesses: Most brittle synthetic, can be too lightweight for certain areas

Preferred Climate:

sun, no wind

In the past, most outdoor deck furniture was made with a type of plastic called Polyethylene(PE). Polyethylene furniture is inexpensive, but is relatively brittle and prone to weather damage unless it’s made with the high-density version of polyethylene (HDPE). Like other plastics, Polyethylene is fade-resistant, lightweight, and able to take on a variety of unique shapes.

Recycled Plastic

Strengths: Durable, eco-friendly, impervious to water damage, fade-resistant, can withstand extreme temperatures without discomfort, inexpensive

Weaknesses: Can be too lightweight for certain areas

Preferred Climate:

rain, sun, high temperatures, no wind

Recycled Plastic is a hybrid plastic which is made from recycled milk cartons, shampoo bottles, and other plastic consumer goods. Recycled plastic furniture is one of the best rated outdoor furniture materials In both style and performance. This is because it’s extraordinarily strong, extremely durable, and, like all plastics, it’s impervious to moisture, rotting, salt water, and stains. Once of Recycled Platic’s best qualities that it’s usually made to resemble wood with high accuracy while requiring none of the care and maintenance that real wood does. Top top it off, because it’s made from recycled materials, Recycled Plastic is considered to be environmentally-friendly.

Synthetic Resin

Strengths: Fade-resistant, impervious to water damage, can withstand extreme temperatures without discomfort

Weaknesses: Can be too lightweight for certain areas

Preferred Climate:

rain, sun, high temperatures, no wind

Synthetic Resin, or synthetic polyethylene resin, is used to make almost all of today’s outdoor wicker furniture. There are a few varieties of synthetic resin wicker, and most of them share the same qualities. Synthetic wicker delivers all of the traditional good looks of plant-based wicker, but with almost none of the downsides. Synthetic resins are extremely weather-resistant, and almost all of the high quality varieties come with fade-resistant UV protection. Like other plastics, the main drawback of synthetic resin wicker is that it is too lightweight for windy climates, although this can be mitigated if it is wound around a heavy enough frame.


Because natural fabrics are well known to be ill-suited to outdoor environments, almost all of the fabrics used to create contemporary outdoor furnishings are synthetic. Although they may be marketed under different brand names, almost all synthetic outdoor fabrics seen today are made of acrylic, olefin, or polyester fibers. 

Additionally, when it comes to synthetic outdoor fabrics, it’s important to understand that they are all actually quite robust when it comes to strength, flexibility, and moisture management, which refers to their ability to resist water and dry quickly. Because of this, synthetic outdoor fabrics are suitable for both dry and rainy climates. The most important quality to consider when looking at synthetic fabrics is lightfastness, the fabric’s ability to resist  fading when exposed to UV light, followed by stain-resistance and feel.


Strengths: Highly durable, exceptional lightfastness, water-resistant, comfortable

Weaknesses: Expensive and stains fairly easily

Currently, acrylic fabrics are the best all-around fabrics for outdoor furniture. They stand up to wear-and-tear; they’re water resistant; mold and mildew resistant; and they offer premium UV protection for color that doesn’t fade season after season. Acrylic fabrics are also breathable and soft to the touch, making them ideal for a range of upholstered outdoor furnishings. Although they are generally easy to care for, acrylic fabrics can be relatively easy to stain when not treated with a stain treatment bath. All in all, the only real problem with acrylic outdoor fabrics is that they are the most expensive fabric listed.


Strengths: Inexpensive, highly durable, exceptional lightfastness, water-resistant, stain-resistant

Weaknesses: Not as soft to the touch as other outdoor fabrics

OOlefin fabrics are also an amazing option for outdoor spaces. Olefin is a byproduct of refining petroleum, and olefin fabrics offer roughly the same strength, durability, and water-resistance, as acrylic fabrics. Importantly, olefin fabrics are also just as fade-proof as acrylic fabrics, but they are significantly less expensive. To top it off, olefin fabrics are the most stain-resistant of all of the fabrics listed. Although they’re breathable and smooth, the biggest drawback of olefin fabrics is that they are generally not as soft as acrylic or polyester fabrics. With that being said, olefin fabrics are incredibly robust outdoor materials, and they are highly recommended, especially if acrylic is outside of your price range. 


Strengths: Affordable, soft touch, water-resistant, strong

Weaknesses: Poor lightfastness

Polyester is last on many people’s list when it comes to fade-proof outdoor fabrics, but, that being said, polyester is an extremely strong, flexible, and water-resistant material. Because of the way that it is dyed, polyester is able to be mass produced with bright colors and prints, but these colors will fade much faster than those found on acrylic and olefin fabrics. Not to be completely overlooked, polyester is extremely affordable and it’s one of the softest outdoor fabrics on the market. Because of these factors, our experts believe that polyester is best suited for outdoor throw pillows, blankets, and other similar products intended for seasonal use.

Now that you have a firm grasp on which materials make the most sense for your local climate, you’re ready to get out there and design the outdoor space of your dreams, rain or shine.

*Don’t forget - our new and improved Furniture Glossary has tons of helpful information about furniture. Learn more about all the types of wood and types of metal used in furniture construction in the General Construction Terms section, or discover your favorite style in the Furniture & Design Styles section!